Workplace comedy delightful movie of relationships
The generation gap is a real thing. All I have to do is start talking about emojis or use texting abbreviations, and I lose both my parents. At work, my husband even takes classes to help him learn to communicate and work more effectively with people from differing generations.
He and I fall in to an interesting category: depending on who you read, we could either belong to Gen X or Millennials. We understand technology, but we also weren’t introduced to it until college. We still know how to write in cursive and don’t look at our phones every 12 seconds. We have friends who are significantly older and younger than us, and we like it that way.
But it seems not everyone is the same, which is why a movie like “The Intern” is so timely. It delves head first into those deep-seated clichés about old and young and proceeds to turn them on their head.
Robert DeNiro (at his disarmingly banal best) plays Ben, a widowed retiree looking for another way to fill the hours. Anne Hathaway is Jules, the 30-something brains behind a fast-growing online clothing line. One of her co-workers suggests that they offer a “senior internship” as a PR move to show that their company is both hip and respectful to their elders. When Ben shows up Monday morning, not only does Jules not know who he is, but she deeply mistrusts him.
Ben, ever the dutiful worker bee, starts to find things to do – cleaning off a desk here, running numbers there, offering bits of hard-earned business wisdom. Slowly, he begins to win her favor, until he ultimately becomes invaluable to her. That’s where the real story starts. Yes, there are the expected scenes where she teaches him how to use Facebook and he teaches her a thing or twenty about how to run a business, but then it takes a sharp detour. Each of them starts to discover that regardless of their age, they are both struggling with the same thing – the desperate need to achieve at work and feel needed at home.
This film was such a cheering snapshot of what is possible when two radically different people can learn from each other. On the surface, it’s a hilarious workplace comedy with onthe-nose humor about the foibles of each generation. What keeps you in your seat is the crackling chemistry between Hathaway and DeNiro. They clearly enjoyed each other and making this film. Their interchanges are witty, tender and lightning-quick.
Leave it to Nancy Meyers to transform a workplace comedy into a commentary on feminism and aging. Her brilliant script and deft directing lend the film a certain gravitas that would have been lost in the hands of other directors. Something must be said as well for the wacky and wickedlytalented band of supporting cast. Jules’ hyperventilating assistant is priceless, as are the other interns that Ben has to work with every day.
I’m not sure I would have called myself a DeNiro fan before – he was an actor from “my mother’s generation.” But I see him in a totally different light now, and it makes me want to go back and watch his other films.
One small step for a Millennial, one giant leap for the Greatest Generation?
Jill Cluff is a sometimes librarian who is married to one giant and mom to two boys. She loves all things book- and food-related – often at the same time.